With Oprah's recent "No Phone Zone" initiative, plus all the media and political buzz surrounding distracted driving, drivers are becoming ever more aware of the danger in being preoccupied on the road. Now another celebrity has joined in to advocate for four-legged passengers.
Cesar Millan, famed animal behaviorist and star of the "Dog Whisperer" TV show, has partnered with pet safety experts Bark Buckle Up to create a public service announcement that urges drivers to practice pet vehicle safety. Millan asks pet owners to take the pledge to "Be Smart, Ride Safe"and remember to secure their pets every time they come along for the ride. The PSA warns that if a pet is not safely belted in, it can lead to visual, audio and manual distraction.
Not only does buckling up Buddy provide pet protection and an added safeguard against distracted driving, it also helps drivers protect their own lives in case of an accident. Data gathered from police research shows that a 60-pound pet can become a 2,700-pound projectile, even when moving at just 35mph. Furthermore, frantic pets in high-stress situations, like a car crash, can delay policemen, EMTs and firefighters from reaching human occupants or can even bite them.
Bark Buckle Up features several products on its website that the company has re-investigated for safety. "We test pet safety products. We don't make or sell them," said Christina Selter, Pet Safety Lady and founder of Bark Buckle Up. "If pet products claim they are crash-tested, we double-check, and get the real story and the education out there."
Along with purchasing pet safety products, another option is to choose a car that fits family size, pet size and functionality. Selter and Bark Buckle Up invite a team of judges to rate the top 10 pet-safe vehicles each year. This is their latest list.
- 2010 Volvo XC60 (with City Safety)
- 2010 Chrysler Town & Country
- 2010 Lincoln MKT
- 2010 Dodge Journey
- 2010 Ford Edge
- 2010 Kia Soul
- 2010 Ford Flex
- 2010 Smart fortwo
- 2010 Ford Transit Connect
- 2010 Honda Element
The Volvo XC60 features a back-up camera that can prevent the common occurrence of running over a pet while in reverse in addition to its most innovative feature, called City Safety, which will actually stop a vehicle if a driver's foot slips off the brake when going under nine miles per hour. The Chrysler Town & Country minivan also made the list for its notable parking assist feature, side airbags and folding rear seats that can fit a child as well as two large animal cages.
Selter urges drivers and pet owners to log on to the Bark Buckle Up site and take the "Be Smart, Ride Safe" pledge. "We had 3,000 new pledges within the first day of the release of the PSA with Cesar, and we are expecting many more in the weeks and months to follow," she said. "We all travel with our pets. That's nothing new. But now it's time we make the pledge to be smart about it."